Expanding HIV and AIDS Drug Options
HIV Drugs continued...
The FDA also approved two one-pill, once-a-day products to treat HIV. Atripla combines three different RT inhibitors (efavirenz + tenovir DF + emtricitabine). And Complera is a combination of Truvada (which combines the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors Emtriva and Viread) and the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor Edurant.
2. Protease inhibitors (PI) interfere with an enzyme that HIV uses to create infectious viral particles.
The FDA has approved these protease inhibitors:
|Brand Name||Generic Name||Abbreviation|
|Kaletra||lopinavir + ritonavir||LPV|
Taking Invirase with Norvir has been linked to a potentially serious drug interaction causing an abnormal heart rhythm. Your doctor may recommend heart monitoring. Also, the FDA says that taking the hepatitis C drug Victrelis (boceprevir) and ritonavir (when also taking atazanavir, lopinavir, or darunavir) can potentially reduce the effectiveness of these drugs.
3. Fusion inhibitors help block HIV's entry into healthy cells. At this time, Fuzeon (enfuvirtide), ENF, is the only one the FDA has approved.
4. Entry Inhibitors also help block HIV's entry into healthy cells. Currently, maraviroc (Selzentry) is the only FDA-approved drug, but others are in late stage clinical trials.
5. Integrase inhibitors block insertion of viral DNA into the host cell DNA. Currently, raltegravir (Isentress) and Tivicay (dolutegravir) are the only FDA-approved drugs, but others are in clinical trials.
How to Take HIV Drugs
There are many types of HIV drugs. Your doctor will provide you with specific directions for the medications you take. However, remember these important points:
- Take all your HIV medication exactly as directed. Never even miss one dose. If you don't take them as directed, you may develop resistant strains of HIV, and your medication may stop working.
- Check with your pharmacist or doctor about whether or not you should take your medications on an empty stomach. Taking them the right way can reduce side effects.
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor about any dietary supplements or other medications you take. Some can interact with your HIV medications.
AIDS and HIV Drugs for Opportunistic Infections and Other HIV-Related Problems
If severe side effects result from HIV drugs, you may need to stop using them. Or you may need to switch to others. Don't stop without first talking with your doctor.
If you develop an opportunistic infection, you may need to take extra medications. In some cases, doctors prescribe preventive drugs to keep an opportunistic infection from starting in the first place. And, some maintenance drugs must be taken for life to prevent them from returning.
Here are a few examples of common opportunistic infections or side effects caused by HIV medications. The table also shows medications commonly used to treat them.
Common Medications Used
Low red-blood-cell count
Procrit or Epogen (erythropoietin)
Brain infection caused by a fungus
- Fungizone (amphotericin B), given by IV injection
- Diflucan (flucanazole) to prevent recurrence
Virus that can cause eye infections
- Cytovene (ganciclovir)
- Foscavir (foscarnet)
- Vistide (cidofovir)
Viral infection that can cause liver damage
A combination of ribavirin (a pill) and pegalyated interferon (a once-a-week injection)
A cancer that causes skin lesions
Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC)
- Multi-drug treatment, including Biaxin (clarithromycin) or Zithromax (azithromycin) and Mycobutin (rifabutin) prevention with clarithromycin or azithromycin weekly
- Anti-seizure medication, such as Neurontin (gabapentin)
- Pain medications, such as Lidoderm (lidocaine ointment), morphine, or Duragesic (fentanyl skin patches)
Pneumonia caused by a fungal infection
Preventive treatment: Bactrim or Septra (TMP-SMZ), pentamidine, or mepron